The recruitment of elite guard Zion Cruz has seen plenty of blue-bloods attempt to stake their claim. Originally it looked like Syracuse would have the inside track, as the Jersey City product was playing the Big Apple, hardscrabble type of basketball the Orange have landed for years. Then it looked like Indiana might have a chance with the hiring of Mike Woodson, who brings with him years of NBA experience.
Next up was North Carolina, who delivers perhaps the most decorated history in college basketball. The Tar Heels feel like their parade of NBA lottery picks and great guards over the decades could be the key. Cruz called them a “dream school.” Then in June Auburn slipped into the fray as a favorite, an outside in the college basketball universe for many years, but a program lifted by the energy of Bruce Pearl. Cruz said he considered the Tigers a family and his personal top choice.
But recently Oregon has entered the race after his official visit there earlier in the summer. Part of the reason Syracuse dropped out of the race appears to be because Cruz wants to disconnect from his northeast roots and be away from home. He told 247 Sports in June he had already developed a rapport with the Ducks staff even before his visit.
“The relationship has been going good. They text, call and share quotes to me everyday. I really want to get down there and see if it feels like a family like Auburn did. They seem like they really want me so I’ll be taking them into consideration. I like how they play fast and play a lot of on ball defense which suits my style of play. I’m also looking to be away from home so that is also good.” – Zion Cruz on Oregon
The style of Dana Altman’s offense may make the difference in his decision. He has said he wants a type of offense that puts the ball in his hands and pushes the tempo. Cruz is a top 20 player in the Class of ’22, and has a knack for scoring in crunch time. 247 Sports has labeled his interest in Oregon as “warm,” the only other school to get that designation besides Auburn. And the Ducks have a stud who Cruz could potentially team up with.
SU fans are well aware of the Ducks this recruiting cycle because of Dior Johnson. The top point guard in this class originally committed to the Orange in February ’20 but decommitted by the end of the year. Now he’s in Eugene, and a backcourt of Dior and Zion could be devastating. Let’s also remind everyone Quincy Guerrier transferred to Oregon as well. There’s an Orange tint in Eugene. Johnson would slide into the point guard role and Cruz would play off the ball. Add into the fray Emoni Bates, one of the highest ranking recruits in the country who has the Ducks in his top 4. Altman has his recruiting machine working overtime.
Zion has been pretty tight-lipped about his decision, but with the amount of momentum the Ducks are gaining, we may very well see another Orange target land at Oregon.